Approximately 400 people signed a petition urging the City of Greater Sudbury to save the Beaver Lake fire station.
Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini tabled the petition during Monday’s community and emergency services committee meeting.
“The Beaver Lake Fire Services Committee has been working diligently to save our fire hall in Beaver Lake,” Vagnini said, relaying the contents of the petition.
“We have a petition enclosed, with 400 signatures strong, opposing the closure of the Beaver Lake fire station. Our safety and insurability is at risk.”
Vagnin later added, “This is extremely important to the Beaver Lake community and surrounding areas.”
In a series of proposed emergency services infrastructure changes in Greater Sudbury, the Beaver Lake fire station is to be consolidated into Whitefish, which is located approximately 15 kilometres east.
In March, Beaver Lake Fire Services Committee member Brenda Salo blamed the city for the state the Beaver Lake fire station is currently in, where one volunteer member on average has been responding to calls.
With at least four members required on the first responding truck, this has meant other stations have already been responding to calls in the Beaver Lake area, which means the Fire Underwriters Survey will already rank the area as “unprotected” in its Dwelling Protection Grade.
The same applies to the fire station in Skead, whose residents held a rally during a city consultation session for proposed emergency services infrastructure changes at the Skead Community Centre last week.
Residents in both Skead and Beaver Lake have argued that their fire stations should have more volunteers and that the city has been negligent in attracting volunteers.
City staff have denied this claim, pointing to continued recruitment efforts and a decline in volunteer firefighters across North America. Greater Sudbury’s complement of volunteer firefighters has dropped by 38.6 per cent during the past decade.
At the latest count, Beaver Lake had three volunteer firefighters and Skead had one.
Beaver Lake had 11 volunteer firefighters in 2012, nine in 2013, and six in 2015, but hasn’t exceeded four since 2016.
In the city’s plan, several emergency services stations would consolidate in ideal locations throughout the municipality and draw from a greater population base to hopefully bring in more volunteers.
The city is hosting a public consultation in Beaver Lake on April 26 regarding the proposed changes to emergency services infrastructure.
The meeting will take place at the Beaver Lake Emergency Services Station (7535 Highway 17) from 5 to 7 p.m.
Salo was unavailable for comment for this story, but noted in emailed correspondence with Sudbury.com that she hopes to see a big crowd and response at the April 26 meeting.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.